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Sleep: How Much Is Enough?
Human Resources » Heath, Safety & Well Being

Chrm Message From: madure Total Posts: 278 Join Date: 06/06/2006
Rank: Coach Post Date: 04/07/2006 19:23:01 Points: 1440 Location: Sri Lanka

The best answer is that you need enough sleep at night to feel fully refreshed and alert the following day. For most people that's about 8 hours, more or less. Research studies have shown that when people are given ample opportunity to be in bed in the dark, they sleep longer than 9 hours at first but eventually level off at about 8 hours and 15 minutes. However, the average adult in our society gets only about 6-1/2 hours of sleep, and many sleep only 5 to 6 hours.

Why? Because they don't allow enough time in bed for sleep. If you need an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning, you probably aren't getting enough sleep. You shouldn't have to depend on caffeine to be fully alert. We seem to have a cultural bias against sleep. Many people think of sleep as a waste of time. They spend time they should be sleeping doing just about anything else. Work schedules intrude on our sleep time. Temptations -- cable TV, the Internet, and 24-hour stores -- lure us from going to bed.

Patients tell me they don't let themselves fall asleep unless they absolutely can't stay awake another moment. Until then, they may lie in bed, clicking through TV channels with the remote control, looking for anything that might hold their interest for a moment. They could have fallen asleep much earlier but have ignored the subtle cues of sleepiness that have been evolving over the previous hour or two. The next morning they drag themselves out of bed. Then, during day, especially in the early to mid-afternoon hours, they will suffer from the effects of insufficient sleep.

I'm always hearing, "I don't have time to get more sleep." Everyone complains of having too much to do and that going to bed late or getting up too early is essential. But insufficient sleep can have serious consequences. Inadequate nighttime sleep can lead to daytime sleepiness, fatigue, poor concentration and memory, and an increased risk of mistakes and accidents. Fatigue is one of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities. Researchers also have shown that inadequate sleep can increase one's appetite and promote weight gain.

I see some patients who are persistently sleepy during the day and worry that they might have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy. However, for many of them it is obvious that they're not spending enough time in bed. I try to convince them to add an extra 30 to 60 minutes to their time in bed to give themselves more opportunity for sleep. Often, they are surprised at how much better they feel when they wake up.

Are you too sleepy during the daytime? Are you nodding off during quiet moments? Take a close look at how much time you are allowing for sleep. Research is increasingly confirming the health benefits of getting enough sleep. By David Neubauer, M.D
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